BLANCHARD — Not far from the display case of fried pies, near the cash register at KT’s Steakhouse, sits a document, titled “Petition against drug rehab center.”
“The City of Blanchard is considering rezoning the land located on S.W. 24th and Macarthur for the installation of an Extended Stay Transitional Living Facility,” the petition explanation reads. “Let’s be honest and call it what it really is, rehab for drug abuse and alcoholics.”
The petition, which had almost 200 signatures Thursday, is part of a movement among a group of residents to ensure their voices are heard about Second Story Ranch, a 90-day residential home designed to help men recover who have completed 30 days of inpatient substance abuse treatment.
Sheila Ridley, the owner of Second Story, said she did not anticipate that residents would take issue with the transitional home, which sits on the outskirts of Blanchard city limits on 112 acres.
“This is not an institution, this is not a facility — this is a home,” Ridley, a licensed clinical social worker, said. “I’m all about discomfort and joy, and I think that’s what recovery is really about, is getting comfortable with your discomfort and learning to experience joy.”
Ridley, who grew up in Newcastle, will present her case to the Blanchard Planning Commission during Thursday’s meeting, set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the city hall building, 122 N Main.
Gale Gendron, who has been on the planning commission for about five years, declined to comment, saying she would prefer to wait until she hears from a variety of perspectives at Thursday’s meeting. Jeff Tompkins, planning commission chairman, could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, l opponents of Second Story expect a big turnout at the meeting.
About a mile from Second Story, a large white and orange sign posted on the entrance of a gated community reads: “PROTECT OUR CHILDREN! TELL CITY OF BLANCHARD NO DRUG REHAB CENTER NEAR YOUR HOME.”
Identical signs are scattered throughout the area.
Blanchard resident Terry Holliday helped get those signs up. Holliday lives in a new neighborhood near the proposed transitional living center, he said.
He and other neighbors are concerned about the safety of their children if someone from Second Story decides to unexpectedly leave on foot, he said. Residents are concerned that the center will increase crime in the area, he said.
“The reason we live in this area is because we didn’t want to live in Oklahoma City, and we wanted to escape the problems associated with an urban area and Oklahoma City ... ,” Holliday said. “Now, ... they’re attempting to put this rehabilitation center in, and admit it or not, it brings drug addicts, and even if they are in transition or recovery, the fact of the matter is — they’re still drug addicts.”
Holliday said Ridley should open Second Story in an area that isn’t close to a residential area or in a commercial area.
“It’s a great thing to have those things, rehab facilities, as long as they’re in the proper place, not next to my family and my kids and 80 other families,” he said.
‘No. 1 problem’
Reggie Whitten, co-founder of the Oklahoma-based organization Fighting Addiction Through Education, said in his 12 years of researching substance abuse, he hasn’t found any data that shows a correlation between the location of a substance abuse facility of any kind and an increase in crime.